Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Microsociology

Household structures and economic risks in East and West Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic: compensation or accumulation? (KOMPAKK)


Principal Investigators

Anette Eva Fasang

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Professor of Microsociology

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Emanuela Struffolino

University of Milan

Assistant Professor

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Hannah Zagel

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Postdoctoral researcher, Microsociology

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Project outline

Start date: September 2020

Economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic include the loss of income for many individuals and an increase in the risk of poverty. Household structures can decrease or increase the probability of facing these risks, for example through the number of working adults or of children in the household respectively. Social policy measures can compensate for these risks.

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This project examines the unequal distribution of economic risks and capacities to compensate for such risks in East and West Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic, and evaluates the effect of social policy interventions. In the first step of the project, we develop a typology of household risk-profiles in Germany before the pandemic. The risk profiles are based on the household structure (number of earners, number of dependent children) and on the professional characteristics of household members, considering the extent to which they were affected by the lockdown measures at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Mikrozensus data, we describe the distribution of risk-types in the population with a focus on differences between East and West Germany. In the second step, we use the risk-profiles as a stepping-stone to analyze the accumulation and compensation of risks in households over time. We evaluate the employment trajectories of members within households over a longer period on the basis of longitudinal data (SOEP). The aim is to describe the long-term dynamics of employment-related risks for selected household types leading up to the pandemic. Third, the project considers how social policy measures implemented during the pandemic were able to compensate for different types of risks. We distinguish between measures targeting the individual (e.g. Kurzarbeitergeld - short-time work allowance, Arbeitslosengeld - unemployment benefit) and those targeting households (e.g.  Grundsicherung - basic security benefit, Wohngeld - housing benefit). We use a simulation approach to test counterfactual scenarios of risk distributions, accounting for different “packages” of social policy measures.

  • "KOMPAKK index of economic sectors closure during the first wave of COVID-19" [Link]
  • "KOMPAKK index of occupations’ teleworkability in Germany" [Link]
  • "KOMPAKK - Essential occupations in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic" [Link]

  • Struffolino, Emanuela, Hannah Zagel, Jonas Braun and Martin Gädecke: Teleworkability in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany: A household perspective [Link]
  • Zagel, Hannah, Emanuela Struffolino and Martin Gädecke: Wirtschaftszweige im Lockdown während der ersten Welle der Covid-19 Pandemie: ein Vergleich zwischen den Bundesländern, FIS-Briefing (Fördernetzwerk Interdisziplinäre Sozialpolitikforschung) [Link]
  • Zagel, Hannah, Emanuela Struffolino and Martin Gädecke: Sectors in lockdown in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic across federal states in Germany [Link]
  • Fasang, Anette, Martin Gädecke, Emanuela Struffolino and Hannah Zagel: „Mit Risiken rechnen. Sozialpolitik muss Individuen ebenso im Blick haben wie ihr Zusammenleben in Haushalten", WZB Mitteilungen. [Link]

  • Struffolino, Emanuela: Colloquium MZES Mannheim, 1 June 2021
  • Anette Fasang: Guest on the Panel "Die Systemrelevanten und die Entbehrlichen: Gesellschaftliche Prioritäten in der Krise", Jahreskonferenz des Forschungsinstituts Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt, 8 June 2021.
  • Struffolino, Emanuela: Accumulation and compensation of economic risks in the household and over time: East and West Germany in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic", V Convegno Sisec, 9 June 2021.
  • Zagel, Hannah: Akkumulation und Kompensation ökonomischer Risiken im Haushalt und über die Zeit: Ost- und Westdeutschland im Kontext der Covid-19 Pandemie, Tagung der DGS Sektionen „Soziale Ungleichheit und Sozialstrukturanalyse" und „Sozialpolitik" Erwerbsverläufe, Sozialpolitik und Ungleichheit, 10 June 2021.

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The project is funded by the FIS – Fördernetzwerk interdisziplinäre Sozialpolitikforschung (Support network for interdisciplinary social policy research) [Link] by the Federal Ministry of Social and Labour Affairs [Link].